When Jean and Lloyd Habel met, it was the flashy Chevy roadster he was driving that first caught her eye.
The attraction between the two of them soon went beyond his car; the Habels will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary next week.
They were married July 29, 1939 in Kitchener. He was 21; she was 18. Movie stars were wearing tinted dresses that year so Jean was married in a pale pink dress with satin sandals dyed to match. Their wedding party was small – just the maid of honour and best man – but they had a seven-piece orchestra.
Lloyd’s hobby was restoring old cars, and those classics made for a number of memorable family outings together.
“It was a hobby where you could take your family with you,” Jean said.
“Even the dog went along,” Lloyd added.
The first car he restored was a 1917 Model T touring. One of Jean’s fondest memories is taking the car to the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and driving in the gaslight parade.
“It was in the dark and all the cars … had the gas lamps lit. It was really something to see; I’ll never forget it,” Jean said.
Now 91 and 88 years old, Lloyd and Jean look decades younger than their years, although there are some signs they’re getting older: “I can’t hear and he can’t see,” joked Jean.
“And she won’t listen,” Lloyd wisecracked.
Lloyd specialized in auto mechanics in high school and graduated with a scholarship. A.R. Kaufman, president of Kaufman Furniture, offered him at job straight out of high school and Lloyd worked for the company for 47 years, first repairing their cars and then fixing the machines in the factory.
Jean was a housewife – she gently complains that Lloyd wouldn’t let her work – but some of her friends were managers of stores in Kitchener, and they would call her in to help out at busy times or when someone was sick.
Jean loved cooking and did some knitting, but her hobbies were mostly athletic; she swam and played tennis, hockey and baseball, an activity that landed her a broken nose.
Jean spent their third wedding anniversary in the hospital, having given birth to daughter Bev two days earlier.
Lloyd and Jean moved to Elmira in 1973. Bev and her husband Gerry Coles had been living on First Street but with a growing daughter, their little bungalow was too small. They built a new house on Golf Course Road and Jean and Lloyd moved into the bungalow.
A few years ago, when Jean and Lloyd moved to the assisted living centre at Chateau Gardens, Bev and Gerry moved back to First Street.
“There’s only the two of us that have been in that house,” Jean noted.
Jean was happy to baby-sit granddaughter Cara when Bev returned to work as a supply teacher, and wishes she could do the same for their three great-grandchildren, Cole, Parker and Sidney.
Lloyd and Jean had big parties for their 30th and 50th anniversaries; the celebration for their 70th will be a smaller, family affair at Chateau Gardens on Sunday.